Michal Avny: Funding Challenges for Female Startups in Israel

I interviewed Michal Avny, CoFounder Symbolab last week via skype.  She had just gotten Angel funding for her startup.  I asked her about the funding challenges for female startups in Israel.

Michal Avny is a technologist and entrepreneur with over 20 years experience in innovation, research and technology formulation.  Michal is the Co-Founder and CEO of EqsQuest, the creators of Symbolab, a semantic search engine for math & science. Symbolab introduces a breakthrough in search technology by enabling search and discovery of scientific content using scientific notations.  Prior to founding EqsQuest, Michal was the head of Relegence IL, a pioneer in real time search technology. The company develops groundbreaking, revolutionary, Real Time Search systems. For 10 years, Michal built the Relegence R&D and innovation teams from the ground up leading to a successful acquisition by AOL in 2006.  Prior to joining Relegence, Michal collaborated with various technology companies in the Washington D.C. area as a senior consultant for over 10 years. Among the companies are Disclosure, Vantage, Comsearch, Vidar and Marquette. She helped innovate, architect, and develop state of the art information systems. Her significant contribution, innovation, leadership and direction resulted in a buyout of Vantage.  Michal is recognized as an expert in the field of Information Retrieval, Real Time Search and Discovery.  Michal holds a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science from the Tel Aviv University.  You can contact Michal on Twitter @michaltest

Aaron Levie, CoFounder Box keynote #tiecon

Aaron Levie CEO/CoFounder Box, which he originally created as a college business project with the goal of helping people easily access their information from any location. Aaron spoke about his entrepreneurial journey in building an enterprise cloud company @TIE Con.

Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference Day 1 mashup #rightscon

We attended Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference last week.  It was 2 days jam packed with amazing speakers from all over the world. Really inspiring & fabulous learning to hear how technology & the internet are changing the world & how we need to be aware of human rights abuses in the midst of this excitement.  Thanks to Access for organizing & all their great team

Some of the speakers on Day 1 & featured in this video mashup were Alaa Abd El-Fatah, blogger & political activist (Egypt); Mike Posner, US Ass Sec State, Democracy, Human Rights & Labor; Liza Gross, Exec Director IWMF; Chiranuch “Jiew” Premchiporn, Leading Opposition Journalist (Thailand); Bob Boorstin, Director Public Policy Google; Elliot Schrage,  VP of Global Communications Marketing and Public Policy Google; Bennett Freeman, Senior VP Calvert Investments; Rosebell Kagumire, Rosebell’s Blog (Uganda); Van Jones, Co-founder RebuildTheDream; Nathan Freitas, Founder The Guardian Project; Mohamed Najem, CoFounder SMEX Beirut; Mary Catherine Wirth, Sr Legal Counsel Global Online Services Adobe Systems; Lauren Compere, Managing Director Boston Common Asset Management; Robert Scoble, Chief Learning Officer Rackspace;  Karmal Sedra, Managing Director Dev & Institutionalization Support Center Egypt; Patrick Ball, PhD Chief Scientist & VP Human Rights Programs Benetech; Peter Fein, Agent Telecomix; Sokeel Park, Research & Policy Analyst LiNK (North Korea); Jeffrey H. Dygert Exec Director, Public Policy AT&T; Bram Cohen, Founder & Chief Scientist BitTorrent & Miriam Abu Sharkh, Gaza

Black Founders PitchParty mashup

Black Founders hosted a PitchParty in San Francisco last week.  Crosswalk won the competition. Pitches by Cheryl Contee, Attentive.ly; Joel Cheuoua, Symbyoz; Patrick Jackson, Crosswalk; Jabari Martin, Tagive; Clarence Nathaniel, Netwirth; Charles Van Norman, Hactus; Julie Ko, SurePod; Eoin McMillan, Picture.ly.  Thanks again to the investors who attended as judges for their generous feedback to the entrepreneurs Gwen Edwards, Golden Seeds; Nancy Pfund, DBL Investors, Bryce Roberts, OATV & Cameron Lester, Azure Capital Partners.

Thanks to JetJaw for letting us use their service to facilitate voting for the best pitch via mobile phones.  Brilliant service!

Torben Rankine: Portuguese Startup Culture

Torben Rankine Country Manager Leadership Business Consulting/Coordinator Global Strategic Innovation Programs focused on Portuguese startups.  Angelika Blendstrup interviewed him about Portuguese startups & women entrepreneurs.  Torben is a financial and Management consultant with over 12 years experience. He has worked in investment sales and management and as a project director in the financial, insurance, transport, telecoms and public administration sectors. He has a deep understanding of the Iberian markets and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

This interview was reposted @TheNextWomen

Pedro Gordo,CEO g3p technologies has come from Portugal to Silicon Valley

Pedro is a 42 years old Mechanical Engineer with a Post Graduation in Logistics and a MBA in International Management. He worked for different industries: automotive, railways and ATM. He is the co-founder of 3 companies: g3p consulting; Centro Gamma Knife Radiocirurgia and g3p technologies and now also CEO Centro Gamma Knife Radiocirurgia.g3p technology is a Portuguese startup that designs cash management and payment solutions. The company has a very experienced team with more than 100 years of combined experience in engineering and banking industry. They started the company in 2010 and already have several customers in Portugal where their solutions are working.In 2011 they took the decision to introduce a cash management solution for small retailers through their new Deposit ATM and launch it in the US. Since April they are at Silicon Valley in Plug and Play Tech Center with very positive feedback.

Thanks to Angelika Blendstrup for doing both interview

Marissa Mayer: Advice for Female Entrepreneurs

Marissa Mayer was kind enough to give some advice & tips for female entrepreneurs @Social Loco Conference.  We also asked her about how to handle failure.

Marissa Mayer is the Vice President of Location and Local Services at Google. Previously she was Vice President of Search Product and User Experience.  Marissa joined Google in 1999 as Google’s first female engineer, where she led the user interface and web server teams at that time. Her efforts have included designing and developing Google’s search interface, internationalizing the site to more than 100 languages, defining Google News, Gmail, and Orkut, and launching more than 100 features and products on Google.com.  Prior to joining Google, Mayer worked at the UBS research lab (Ubilab) in Zurich, Switzerland, and at SRI International in Menlo Park, California.  You can find Marissa on Twitter @marissamayer

Hi Marissa Mayer, thank you so much for your talk today. Fantastic product that Google has launched!  I was wondering if you could give us a few tips for women entrepreneurs or women in small business?

Sure my advice for women is the same as it is for men which is that you should find something that you’re really passionate about. Because passion is a gender neutralizing force.  I really think that you should work for someone that believes in you.  Work for people that believe in you & invest in you because that’s how you’ll go far in your career.  You’re going to give them a lot of your time, the company that your joining, your startup & you want to make sure that you also get the responsibility & fulfillment that you’re looking for.  So those are my two words of advice: Find somewhere where you’re really passionate & find somewhere where someone believes in you.  And I guess my third piece of advice is find somewhere very comfortable. It’s interesting for me because I’m a very shy person by my nature & at Google people don’t believe I’m shy at all because I’m very comfortable there. I think that’s very important, one of the most important things for all entrepreneurs, especially for women is to find your voice.  If you can’t express what you’re thinking & what you believe in that’s a real issue.  So I think it’s really important for women entrepreneurs especially to find somewhere where they’re comfortable.

Fantastic thank you so much. I was wondering if you could talk a little about how failure sits in the middle of startups & entrepreneurs?

Well failure is a fact of life.  The most important thing of course is to learn from failure.  I also think the other thing that people don’t realize about failure is it’s totally fine as long as you do it fast.  If you fail fast & then you’re onto the next thing, that’s actually successful you’re much better off.  So you’ve got to be constantly monitoring your effort, figuring out are you on a trajectory for success or are you on a trajectory for failure.  If you’re on a trajectory for failure, decide to fail fast, give it up & move onto the next thing that will be successful.

Marissa Mayer

Brilliant advice, thanks again.

Thank you, bye.

Marissa Mayer

Leila Chirayath Janah, Samasource: Being Female in a Male World

Video Interview with Leila Chirayath Janah, CEO & Founder Samasource.  Leila first developed the idea behind Samasource while working as a management consultant at Katzenbach Partners (now Booz & Co.), where her clients included global leaders in the outsourcing and telecom sectors and a number of prominent non-profits. Along with Professors Thomas Pogge and Aidan Hollis, she founded Incentives for Global Health and helped produce a plan for incentivizing the development of new drugs for neglected diseases. As an undergraduate, Leila authored background papers for the World Bank’s Development Research Group and Ashoka on equity and social rights. You can find Leila on her website on Twitter @leila_c & blogging @Social Edge


Transcript follows & video below.  This is Part I of the interview. You can view Part II here

Could you briefly explain what your business Samasource does?

Sure Samasource is a 501(c)3 non profit that connects people living in poverty to work over the internet. So essentially we take these large outsourcing contracts that involve data entry & human judgment & we break them down to various small tasks & send those tasks out to small computer centers in 5 different countries in Sub Saharan Africa, South Asia & Haiti. We train poor people to do those tasks & earn income from companies like Google, Linkedin & facebook.

Leila Chirayath Janah

Would there be a lot of women involved in these projects?

Yeah about 50% of our workforce is women. And we have some partners who are all women. It turns out that women are naturally good at this type of work. We’ve seen a lot of demand & grow communities among women for basic jobs.

Leila Chirayath Janah

Oh isn’t that encouraging, that’s brilliant! Have you ever had to source angel investment or venture funding?

Have I! It’s my job!
The challenge with being a non-profit is that you have no equity. Technically you’re owned by the general public & you have a Board of Directors who act as Trustees. So the challenge for social entrepreneurs who are building new models is that traditional philanthropy isn’t well suited to funding new ventures. Traditional philanthropy is well suited to funding more traditional more established non profit organizations. There’s been a new movement around venture philanthropy, taking the traditional model & turning it on its head & really looking at venture capital as a model for philanthropy. I think we’re a long way away from having the kind of resources in the non profit world that we do in the for profit world to fund new enterprises. So the challenge we’ve had is trying to build a company. We’ve run in many ways like a normal business it’s just that all of the revenue we get gets reinvested by default into the business. So its been challenging to build the infrastructure of a business without a significant amount of starting capital.

Leila Chirayath Janah

So I guess you’ve had to be really creative with your model as well, in the sense that you’re breaking out of the old traditional ways of doing things. Yes I would agree with you, just in ordinary startups, that would be my philosophy. I think that it does trigger a lot of creative evolution & ways of doing things. Good on you! What personal lessons being a woman have you taken out of your successes &/or failures in that regard?

It’s funny to put the woman lense on it, because I just think of myself as me, as an entrepreneur. A lot of the lessons I’ve drawn about entrepreneurship have been from leaders in the valley who happen to be men or happen to not be Indians. I don’t put myself in a category. But in terms of lessons learned I think, the most important lesson is persistence. Early on I imagined that I had this great idea & that other people would understand the idea & buy into it & get excited about it. It took me a long time to get the sort of traction that we have now. It felt like a long time but people outside the organization have said ‘Wow you’ve grown so quickly in 2 years & you already have all this legitimacy. But to me it took for ever. So I think that the first lesson I learned is that if you have an idea particularly in the social space: my idea was to take people living in refugee camps & in rural parts of India & plug them directly into the digital supply chain for companies like Google. Most people laughed when I told them that & said what about all these operational issues & there isn’t power in some of these places & those people that do this work need bed nets, they don’t need computers. I heard every objection you can imagine. I think the biggest, boldest ideas are those that require a lot of stamina to get going & rely on a lot of persistence on the part of the entrepreneur. That’s the first lesson I learned. I’d say secondly, I hate to make generalizations, but the women that I know confirm this & the studies I’ve read confirm this, women are less aggressive than men in raising money & in pitching an idea. If you’re trying to get legitimacy for an idea that hasn’t yet materialized as a company you have to be aggressive. You have to sell the vision 5 years out. You can’t be selling what you currently have, which is you, your friend’s futon & your laptop. I think that women are far too conservative in business settings particularly when it comes to raising money & selling a vision for whatever reason. I find that that conservatism can be really good for the business. I have a COO who is much more conservative than I am & much more risk averse & that’s wonderful because she makes contingency plans & ensures that our books are done correctly. But in terms of the founder, you need to have somebody who is going to aggressively sell the vision & aggressively make people buy into this idea. Otherwise it will never get launched.

Leila Chirayath Janah

And not take things personally, not take rejection personally?

Oh sure & there are a million stories I could tell you about awkward situations: being a young woman founder in a field that’s dominated by men has it’s challenges & it’s benefits. I think you know I’ve experienced both.

Leila Chirayath Janah

Great! I mean not great that you’ve had the bad things but great that you’ve seen it all & that would make you very experienced.

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, right?

Leila Chirayath Janah

What attitudes towards you being female have you noted from the venture community?

Well I think Silicon Valley is pretty meritocratic. I really think, that if anything, it’s been easier for me to get visibility. Visibility, I won’t say anything beyond that, but it’s been easier for me to get featured in blogs & journals & magazines because everybody is looking for a woman founder in technology. And if you happen to be a woman founder in a minority, then you kill two birds with one stone, and they want you even more. My challenge has been I don’t want to be known because we are headed by a woman minority founder. I want to be known because we’re doing something useful. I don’t want the kind of coverage that comes from being a token anything. So sometimes the challenge is I feel is that we’re being asked or being featured in something because of who I am & not because of what our organization is doing. So the downside of that is that it makes me less confident as a founder, that we’re being recognized because of something we deserve or recognized deservedly, I should say.

Leila Chirayath Janah

It’s a moral conflict for you?

Yeah I think that there’s this myth that it’s harder to get visibility as a woman. I don’t think it’s harder to get visibility. I think where there’s substance to that myth, is that it may be harder to actually close funding deals. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that people fund companies or people fund other people who look & act & are from the same social milieu as them.

Leila Chirayath Janah

I keep hearing this, since I’ve been in the valley, this is what I hear.

I think something like 85% or 90% of Venture Capitalists are men from certain socio economic backgrounds? I’m sure that plays into who they eventually fund. I don’t think it’s conscious & I don’t think there’s any malice on the part of people in this community. I also think that if you run a good venture capital firm, your job is look at results & to try & find people who are going to deliver results. The best firms are highly meritocratic in the entrepreneurs they select.

Leila Chirayath Janah

Fantastic, that’s reassuring! What qualities do you think women entrepreneurs need specifically for sourcing venture? You’ve mentioned persistence & not taking things too personally & being a little bit more aggressive & holding that passion & vision & not giving up. Is there anything else that you could think of that would assist women?

Well if you’re in a male dominated space, maybe you have to play like a man?

Leila Chirayath Janah

Ok, tell me more about that.

Sure, I’ve just noticed that a lot of deals get done over drinks or at events that tend to have more men at them. Golfing events & bars that I probably wouldn’t go to with my girlfriends. The reality is that if that is the turf you have to play on, even if it’s hard or even if it’s not really fair, then that’s the turf you have to play on. I actually think that women who know how to do that well have an advantage over men. If you’re the only woman on the golf course you have a lot more visibility & it’s probably going to be easier for you to talk to people than it would be otherwise.

Leila Chirayath Janah

And there’s sort of a shock value. I remember when I was in Dublin, with the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. They had their annual ball & I went into a bar that had Dublin Chamber of Commerce on it & I was the only woman in there & I’m giving out my business cards. One guy looked at me & said ‘What the hell are you doing in here?’ I said ‘Well I’m in the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.’ He said ‘This is only for the guys!’ But I’d shocked them all so much that they were taking my business cards.

You know I think that’s fine. It may be uncomfortable sometimes. Occasionally I’ll be at a tech conference & people will ask me to meet the CEO of the company & assume that I’m some hired woman who’s there to hand out brochures. As demeaning as that initially feels, ultimately that’s great. I can get all sorts of information out of somebody who stops by the booth & doesn’t think that I’m the CEO. Is it bad for my business? No! That the people don’t think that I’m the CEO? Not at all! We have to get over some of that as women. We also have to understand that if we’re playing in a man’s world, there are lots of things we can do to play better than men in that world that aren’t about imitating men or acting like them but are about being ourselves & being confident. The last thing I will say, I really do think that California especially, is a place that rewards results. Silicon Valley wouldn’t be the way it is without people from all walks of life coming through here & being successful. I can point to many women CEOs & minority CEOs who’ve done well here. So I think if you’ve got a good business to sell & you’ve built a good team behind it & theres a market out there that you’re tapping in a smart way, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get funding. And it could be that I’ve been very lucky & I’m a non profit too so I haven’t had to walk Sand Hill Road like other women founders. But I think we’ve had tremendous support for Samasource. I think it just speaks to the fact, that if you have a good idea & you know what you’re doing, people will be around to support you.

Leila Chirayath Janah

Thank you.

Chris Dixon, Founder Collective: ReVisioning Venture Pt II

Podcast interview with Chris Dixon, Angel & CoFounder of Hunch . He is also co-founder of Founder Collective He is a personal investor in early-stage technology companies, including Skype, Foursquare, Stack Overflow, TrialPay, DocVerse (acq by GOOG), Invite Media (acq by GOOG), Gerson Lehrman Group, ScanScout, OMGPOP, BillShrink, Panjiva, Knewton, and a handful of other startups that are still in stealth mode. You can find Chris @ his blog & his Posterous blog & on Twitter @cdixon


Transcript follows & video below.  This is the Part II of the interview. You can view Part I here

In the first interview that I did with Randy Komisar, Kleiner Perkins, I quoted statements that you made in a Gigaom interview (which I thought was a great interview) about how the venture industry was broken. To summarize his response: ’If venture capital is not producing an outsize return for the risk that they take on, which is outsize risk, then the limited partners do not need to invest in the second, third, fourth funds that these venture capitalists put together. And that will by necessity sort of reduce the amount of competition & help to discipline the market around returns’.  Chris how would you respond to this?

I think there’s some truth to that. I think that one issue is that most vc funds last, they’re actively investing for 4 years, and they survive in some form for 10 years. It’s very slow moving. You don’t really know your returns for 10 years. So while in an ideal world that would be true, in reality I think it does happen, it just happens over a very long period of time. I think there’s also other dynamics at play. These LP’s usually aren’t investing their own money. They’re people that work at pension funds, endowments etc and just like in any situation where somebody is investing on behalf of somebody else, there’s what economists call ‘agency problems’. Sp for example, I think there’s a bias, if you’re running a pension fund (I’m just making this up). Let’s say you’re running the Tennessee Teachers Union Pension Fund. In the same way they used to say no-one gets fired for buying IBM, I think no-one gets fired for investing in Kleiner Perkins, right? Even if the returns end up being terrible, as an employee you’re like ‘Look I invested in a fund that had great returns in the past, right?’ They aren’t investing their own money right? I have a blog post somewhere about this where there’s a quote HarbourVest is one of the major LP’s fund-to-fund in investment vcs. There’s a quote where they in the New York Times talked about how they’d just invested in a big prominent vc fund & they’re like ‘Well we think in a more competitive market their brand is going to be, the fact that they’ve been around for a long time, is going to be helpful. And I thought it was funny, I won’t mention who it was, but that particular vc firm is probably the most disliked by entrepreneurs of any vc firm. What they perceive is a good brand & probably what that money manager at that fund-to-fund sees as like a successful investment & is her boss sees as a successful investment because they got into some name brand firm, really has a negative brand because they don’t really know. They’re not really close to the entrepreneurs & knowing what’s really going on. So I think there’s some truth to that, it just takes a really long time & there’s agency problems. So I would describe that as the idealized view of it.

Chris Dixon

So it’s not as black & white as what he’s saying?

I think over a 30 year period, that’s probably true.

Chris Dixon

Thanks for that response. In the more recent interview with Gigaom  you said that you see your blog as a ‘VC Countermeasures Blog’ (go through all the tricks they do & expose them). That’s why I like you, you contribute such a different viewpoint. The radical & honest part of me loves your courage & ability to say the truth as you see it. In that interview you mentioned one post you wrote that stated that the history of venture capital innovation is the history of how to create options on startups in more obfuscatory ways.  I recently interviewed Tim Draper, Draper Jurvetson, who mentioned that every time he tried to make changes to venture investment in his firm, the limited partners don’t like it.   How do you see the venture industry being able to change, if they are held back by LLP’s?

I think that’s a good point. I was surprised when we raised our fund. The typical way vcs are paid is the so called 2 & 20: which the 2 refers to management fees which basically means (it varies but generally these are the rules that 2% of the money under management is paid every year in salaries & operating budget) and then 20% refers to the carry which is the percentage of the profit they get. I wanted to, in our case for example, make it much more performance driven. Much more like a startup where basically the vc firm doesn’t make any money, unless the investors in the vc firm make money. And actually I was surprised that there was pushback. I think Tim Draper was right. In my experience there was pushback from the LPs who were much comfortable with what they considered a standard structure. Even though it would seem…I don’t know if you were investing wouldn’t you want to know that the people you were investing in had the same percentage as you. But for whatever reason & I don’t really fully understand it, there’s this resistance, I think there’s this sort of fear of new things, don’t fully understand it. Maybe there’s accounting issues around it? I don’t really know.

Chris Dixon

It’s changing tradition too really isn’t it really?

Yeah & I think what has to happen is that people with the kind of leverage, I don’t know the Sequoia’s of the world or something, have to lead the way? Because only people with that kind of clout can probably dictate?

Chris Dixon

You also wrote a post which I really appreciated a few weeks back ‘Things I’d do if I ran a big VC firm’ where you had some great suggestions for VCs including: *lower management fees so that they cover necessary expenses an reasonable salaries (e.g. 200K, not 3M). basically be like a startup and only make real money when your investors make money *I’d hire some female investors (and maybe some male receptionists).  I must say that I am always disappointed to see so.. few women on the lists of partners or associates in venture firms & when I go into the offices the women tend to be admin staff. It does seem that the venture industry has a much higher proportion of males than females. Why do you think that has happened & why has it continued?

(You really know my posts!) I hope, as I mentioned before, it’s a legacy of a bygone era & ironically it’s a very, very slow moving industry. It’s ironic (I don’t know if it’s really ironic) but they are all about changing the world & investing in change but because of the structures of these funds, it just takes so long. So what happens is that these partnerships, they’ll raise a fund. If you look at the average returns of the industry as a whole, they’re basically zero for the last decade. Which means that they’re really making all their money on these management fees which basically the disproportionate amount goes to partner’s salaries. So there’s a real financial incentive to just hunker down & just not promote new people to be partners. So there just isn’t much change. My hope is that it is just a legacy of a different era & it’s changing incredibly slowly but it will change. But maybe I’m naive?

Chris Dixon

Well let’s hold your focus, I would like to see it change too.

By the way I think its not just some kind of societal important for gender equality & all these things, I think they would be better investors. Because half the market are women & a lot of investments are going to target women. Women investors are probably better at understanding a lot of those things. If I had my own vc firm today & could pick anyone to run it, no doubt I would have a couple of them being women just for financial reasons.

Chris Dixon

I know Tim Draper said that they only had one female venture capitalist left, the other one had left, but he said she was so intuitive that she would always spot things that the other 6 guys never saw & he just found it so valuable. So we obviously have something to contribute. Thank you so much your time, I so appreciate it. I know how busy you are & it’s been a total pleasure meeting you & also getting your feedback. Thank you so much.

Thank you I appreciate it!

Chris Dixon

Mark Suster, GRP Partners: Women Entrepreneurial DNA

Video interview with Mark Suster, Partner at GRP Partners .  Mark is a 2x entrepreneur who has gone to the Dark Side of VC. He joined GRP Partners in 2007 as a General Partner after selling his company to Salesforce.com. He focuses on early-stage technology companies. You can find Mark @ his blog Both Sides of  the Table & on Twitter @msuster

The transcript follows and video below. This is Pt II of the interview. You can view Part I and Part III and Part IV here.

I loved the Entrepreneur DNA series on your blog & was ticking off points or not as you posted them  I know we are generalizing but how do you see women entrepreneurs holding up with those 11 points, what would we do well & where do we need to beef up?
(1) Tenacity
(2) Street Smarts
(3) Ability to Pivot
(4) Resiliency
(5) Inspiration
(6) Perspiration
(7) Willingness to Accept Risk
(8) Attention to Detail
(9) Competitiveness
(10) Decisiveness
(11) Domain Experience
(l2) Integrity

Let me start Pemo, by saying that in my household when I was growing up, my father was a paediatrician. He was a doctor, not a business person & my Mom worked. She really wore the pants in my house so I was sort of shaped from a very maternally run household. And so I hope, by prefacing with that, if I stereotype a little bit or generalize, I will be forgiven a tiny bit? What I tell teams is I think its important to have diversity of men & women & we know in entrepreneurial companies there is too many men. I recently funded a company with 2 co-founders & the requirement of my funding was that they hire a 3rd cofounder that was a woman. We’re in the process, we’ve made an offer & I’m hoping she’ll accept? (So if you’re watching please accept)

So my broad generalizations would be you know the old book ‘Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars’? Men tend to be confrontational, they tend to be bull headed, they tend to want to fight, they tend to want to one up each other in terms of knowledge & contests. And women seem to be more bridge builders & finding common solutions. I think a healthy dose of both is very good. So I hate to be somewhere where you don’t have bridge builders. Second women tend to be more organized, men tend to be more chaotic. So I would say that they tend to be more organized, men tend to be more scatter brained. Women tend to be more efficient in the office place so they come to work to get stuff done. They tick through their list & get stuff done! Men tend to have chats around the water cooler type. I think both styles of working work really well. Its about knowing the differences, catering to your strengths underpinning any weaknesses you have. Generalizing I think men tend to be more aggressive on business development, in my experience. Women tend to be slightly more understated. Learning to be more assertive & dogmatic in pursuing bus dev relationships is a skill I think that is important for every woman to develop. But I think its yin & yang. I think we each have our strengths & weaknesses which is probably the way DNA was intended to be.

Mark Suster

What do you see as the obstacles for inclusion of more women entrepreneurs in achieving funding?

The starting point is more women that want to do it!

Mark Suster

Ok, beef up the numbers then?

Yeah, look if we’re going to have an honest discussion about men versus women, we have to be honest with each other about the biggest difference. The biggest difference is that somewhere between the age of 30 and 42 many women have kids. Obviously families have kids and our society, rightly or wrongly, (I’m not having a judgment call) tends to be such that the man continues with full time work & the woman either does part time work or stops working completely or takes 6 months off or whatever. She then usually has primary child rearing/caring activities. Well then let’s look at the age of most men when they’re out raising capital? Well it’s probably somewhere in the 28 to 35 range. And I honestly think, again if we’re going to talk openly about this, I think that plays a role in it. I look at my wife, ok, I very publicly say my wife is more accomplished educationally career wise than I ever was. She went to Brown Under Grad & she’s a Wharton MBA. She’s worked at Google, she’s worked in Corporate Strategy. I guess she got the job I wouldn’t have got based on gpa (grade point average) but listen we have 2 little kids. By the way I encouraged her to go back to work if she wanted to do that. She took a year & half off after the first child & I encouraged it & we got a full time nanny. After the second child she took another year & half off out of her choice & then she went back to work. And now that our kids are 7 & 5 she’s wrestling with ‘I want to work, I want to be professional, I want to do something meaningful but I also want to help my son do his homework.’ And again its by choice, she knows I’ve encouraged her by saying ‘Do what you feel comfortable with & I will support it!’ When you think about what it takes to be a startup CEO: on a moment’s notice jumping on an aeroplane to fly for a deal is something that’s the norm. And again if we’re going to talk realistically about that we have to acknowledge it.

If you look at most entrepreneurs that get funded male or female tend to be in that 24-35 range. And they’re outliers. (people who are outliers—in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.)  Jessica Mah got funded recently & she’s 19.  On the male side Brian Wong got funded & he was 18. So there are exceptions & there are teams that get funded in their 40’s. The first deal I ever did was funding someone who was 40 & has 2 kids. So I’m not opposed to it but if we look at the data (I haven’t looked at the data) I would bet you overwhelmingly skewed to 25-33.

Mark Suster

You’re right the facts of life do interfere for both men & women, so I understand what you’re saying.

Absolute Power Online

I had been an early adopter of aardvark the service that had applied for this patent last year before its sale to Google.  I immediately deactivated my account with them in my outrage.  Google does not own the Internet, neither do any of the other big boys.    Movements like this are an attempt prompted out of greed  to take control of the web.  What we are left with when this sort of control moves in, is  a lifeless attempt to sell & advertise as Google does with Google Ads.